WSU Clark County Extension

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Western Redcedar

Scientific name: Thuja plicata

Type:Coniferous trees
Plant Requirements
Zone:5 to 9
Sun:Full to partial sun
Plant Characteristics
Height:100 ft
Width:30 ft
Additional Characteristics



Wildlife value

Description Long considered the most important Northwest native conifer to the aboriginal culture, Western Redcedar is a large forest tree used extensively in the building trade where it is prized for its light weight and decay resistant wood.

This is a large conifer that can grow to 200’ and a width of 30’. An older tree can have a swollen, fluted trunk of 10’ in diameter at the base. Mature trees have an open, pyramidal crown which bears pendulous limbs bearing frond-like foliage. On older trees the ends of the branches display a marked tendency to turn up, especially on limbs near the ground.

Leaves are scale-like, opposite, and set in 4 rows. Each leaf is only 1/16” to 1/8” long. The upper surface is yellow-green. On the underside a distinctive white butterfly shape is evident. The foliage is set in flattened sprays on the branches. In the fall the older leaves are shed resulting in grey patches through-out the canopy.

Female cones are woody and only one half inch long. Each cone has 5-6 paired scales.

The bark of the Western Redcedar is thin (3/4” thick), fibrous, stringy and reddish brown. It is finely ridged and furrowed. Native American tribes found that they could peel it off in long strips and use for basket weaving and clothing.

This species typically occurs at low to mid elevations along the Pacific from Alaska south to northern California. It thrives on wet sites which are rich in nutrients. Unlike many other native conifers this tree is shade tolerant.

Generally considered pest free.
For assistance, contact Dr. Charles Brun (, (360) 397-6060 5701
Computing and Web Resources, PO Box 6234, Washington State University, Pullman WA 99164-6234